New Life for an Older Property: Housing Partnership Reviews Plans for 330 South Road

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The Housing Partnership had a first look at plans for the redevelopment of a multi-building property on South Road at their November 25 meeting and ultimately gave their approval, with some reservations, which now allows the applicant to seek the support of the Selectmen.

Attorney Pam Brown, representing the owners Steve and Jennifer Soillis,  presented a proposed 24-unit Local Initiative Project (LIP) for 330 South Road, a two-acre property at the intersection of South Road and Summer Street.  The site includes two barns, two garages, and a multi-family house with an office. Several buildings have various commercial uses. Some of the buildings date to the late 1890s so that the Historic Preservation Commission deemed the property worthy of saving. The developer also owns two abutting homes at 9 and 11 Summer Street.

Brown outlined the history of the project. Over the years, abutting property owners have complained about the tenants (mainly contractors), and traffic into and out of the site, despite the landlord’s efforts to mitigate the impact of these commercial uses.  After brainstorming, the owners, former Bedford residents, came up with a plan to redevelop the property into a village-style rental community, thus preserving most of the existing structures.

As currently envisioned, the historic large barn would be renovated and made into eight units, the small barn into six units, and the house into four units.  One non-historic garage would be demolished to make way for six additional dwelling units.  Brown pointed out that almost all the homes in the immediate area – Summer Street, Eliot Road, and Genetti Circle – are primarily non-conforming two-family homes on small lots averaging about 5,000 sq. ft per unit, arguing that the density of the new project would be in keeping with the neighborhood.

330 South road would be a 40-B project, with 25% of the rental units to be offered as affordable.

Brown said she had been working with the Soillises for more than a year and has had meetings with the Planning Board, the Historic Preservation Commission, and the Zoning Board of Appeals. The Housing Partnership asked a number of questions about the size of the proposed units, aesthetics, attention to energy conservation (solar panels are planned for the roofs and a LEED-certified architect is working on the plans), rental price, and more detail in general.

Brown will return to the Partnership with more detailed information but asked the committee for a “seal of approval” so that she could make a formal presentation to the Selectmen.  Accordingly, the Partnership unanimously approved a motion “in favor of the use of 330 South Road property for residential use with 25% of units affordable and request more details on units: rents, square footage and distribution of affordable units.”